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Samsung gears up for big foundry thrust

Posted: 27 Mar 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mark LaPedus? Samsung Electronics? 300-mm logic fab? logic products? foundry services?

After dabbling in the foundry business for several years, South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd is gearing up for a major thrust in the arena, a move that could pose a threat for providers in China, Singapore and Taiwan.

By year's end, Samsung is planning to double the production capacity of its 300mm logic fab from 15,000 to 30,000 wafers per month. Located in Giheung, South Korea, the fab is geared for the production of Samsung's logic products and foundry services.

The company is currently manufacturing devices based on its 130nm and 90nm process technologies. It is also currently qualifying its 65nm process, with production slated for later this year, said Ana Molnar Hunter, the new vice president of technology for its U.S. chip subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor Inc.

"We have big plans in the foundry business," Hunter said in an interview. "In the past, Samsung has done some foundry work, but it was not the company's strategic focus. What we're saying now is that the foundry business is a strategic growth engine for Samsung."

Samsung is considered an integrated device manufacturer foundry. The company not only provides foundry services, but it also develops and sells its own chip products. Still, it competes for business against the pure-play foundry providers like Chartered, SMIC, TSMC and UMC, among others.

In recent times, Samsung has been putting the pieces in place to become a bigger and more serious foundry player. Last year, it began ramping up the 300mm fab in Giheung. In addition, the company recently formed a process technology partnership with IBM and Chartered Semiconductor. This allows customers to design to a common process and have access to manufacturing at all three companies, Hunter said.

Samsung did not break out its foundry sales and lists only one customer to date in the arena. As reported last year, Qualcomm and Samsung extended their foundry partnership and the Korean company will start making the latest generation CDMA and W-CDMA wireless chipsets for Qualcomm. The chipsets will be produced using 90nm process technology, with sub 90nm nodes being employed in the future, the companies said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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